17 November 2008

Presidential dreams

One of my students said her parents called her when Obama won and said, "Look, he's the son of immigrants, too. You just need to set a goal and go after it." (No pressure.)

Did you ever dream of being president of the United States (or another country)?

Well, I was shocked when I read (here) that president-elect Barack Obama would not only have to give up his Blackberry, but would likely have to abstain from email, in general. Maybe this was common knowledge, and I was just living peacefully under my rock, but I was surprised that, with all of the technological advances today, they hadn't figured out a way to keep presidential email secure.

I guess the One Laptop per Child movement didn't include the president of the United States, either, as he's pushing just to be the first president to have a laptop in the Oval Office. So much for being the most powerful man in the world.

Seriously, though, add to that the unforgiving scrutiny as he picks his new team, that he has faced more threats after winning the election than any other president-elect, that millions of lives will be affected by his choices, and that every tiny misstep will be televised and analyzed (around the world, of course), and it's no dream job.

On the other hand, if you believe in destiny (or even if you don't), if one is able to do such an important job, and they can improve life for millions of people, then maybe it is their duty to fulfill that obligation. Hopefully, nothing bad will happen (here is another disturbing summary of the recent threats), and Obama will leave office honored and with the U.S. in better shape than when he started (a big undertaking but many feel it couldn't get much worse than now).

On a more positive note, it seems like Obama's message that we all need to tighten our belts and dig our way out of this hole together is actually taking hold. Being flashy is reportedly 'out of style' now.

Coupled with the growing popularity of being environmental, one might worry that consumerism may become obsolete. Keeping up with Joneses will involve comparing solar panels rather than square feet; the person who bikes to work will scoff at the Hummer hybrid pretending to be eco-friendly; and everyone will bake cupcakes rather than buy expensive presents for each other on special occasions.

Well, one can dream, right?

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